Importance of Healthy Diet in Recovery


 Wherehab Reports The Importance of Healthy Diet in Addiction Treatment

Healthy eating habits are essential for everyone, but especially so for people recovering from a drug and alcohol abuse. And yet, most people patients at rehabs struggle with a restoring their body’s physical health.  Despite knowing the importance of eating healthy, they turn to food that makes them happy – or what’s easy and quick. This habit can be devastating in two ways:

  1. Unhealthy dietary habits restrict your body’s ability to recover by causing headaches, sleep disorders, low energy levels, and a myriad of other problems.
  2. An unhealthy diet can cause more severe ailments such as diabetes, obesity, heart disorders, and such.

Some substances, like weed, can compel you to binge on junk food as a “quick fix” to hunger. Worse yet, many drugs will weaken the body’s desire for food and the comfort it brings. Restoring your body’s loss of vitamins and nutrients is vital in fixing the chemical imbalance of the brain. Dieting should not be done in isolation or against your physician’s advice. Be mindful not to eat too much or too little while your body slowly readjusts to your new life.

Drug Abuse’s Effect on Digestion

Abuse of alcohol and drugs interferes with the body’s natural ability to process nutrition. As you become dependant on substances, your body may become numb to feelings of hunger. Your loss of sensation, due to an overload of endorphins, will make food feel tasteless and dull your desire for enjoyable dishes. Furthermore, many drugs can damage internal organs, like the throat or stomach lining, making it painful to digest some foods physically. Withdrawal symptoms can kill your appetite by making you feel nauseous and vomit. The amount of energy exerted in obtaining and consuming drugs will mean less strength and time to get well-balanced meals.

For alcohol, consumed in excessive amounts, you essentially force your body to draw up to 50% of your necessary calories from booze alone. In the short-term, you’ll feel full for the day without getting daily nutrition. Not just that, the alcohol in your bloodstream aggravates your body by restricting the absorption of vitamins and minerals. The result is your weak and sluggish state of drunkenness and that all too familiar hangover.

Specific Substance Abuse Effect on Nutrition

All types of addiction or substance abuse can lead to many different health issues simultaneously, both short- and long-term. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), here are some of the more noticeable effects of specific addictions:

Alcohol Abuse

Repeat alcohol abuse can cause severe damages to multiple organs in your body, especially the liver which is primarily responsible for flushing out toxins. Heavy drinking also places a lot of stress on the pancreas, which controls fat absorption and blood sugar levels. Alcohol is infamous for contributing to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, liver cirrhosis, malnutrition, and seizures.

Marijuana Abuse

The most commonly nutrition-related marijuana side effect is a sudden increase in appetite. This effect makes people hooked to marijuana more likely to indulge in binge eating, which in turn causes obesity.

Opiates Abuse

Prolonged consumption of opiates such as heroin, codeine, and morphine can damage your gastrointestinal organs. Typical symptoms include diarrhea and constipation during use, and nausea and vomiting during withdrawal.

Stimulants Abuse

Commonly used stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine take a toll on your body by restricting your appetite. Prolonged abuse of these drugs can make you lose weight rapidly. Because stimulants also increase your energy and make you stay awake for abnormally long periods of time, you are likely to suffer from other issues such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. A balanced intake of nutrients, on the other hand, can help your body flush away all the toxins accumulated by the substance abuse. It also enhances your mental health and helps improve your quality of life.

The Role of Healthy Diet in Addiction Treatment

Healthy food is a basic necessity if you want to develop a healthy mind and body. The damage your body suffered due to substance abuse is repairable only if you regularly provide it with a healthy dose of nutrients.

Healthy dietary choices such as whole grains and proteins give you a reliable source of steady energy. Similarly, certain foods such as salmon, egg, nuts, seeds, and tofu help build a healthy serotonin level in the body, which is a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and promotes a sense of well-being. Drugs throw off your supply of chemicals responsible for pleasure. Over time after being sober, the brain will naturally replenish the neurotransmitters. However, a healthy diet can help speed up recovery.

Modern neurology has proved a strong correlation between proper nutrition and mental well-being.  A balanced diet full of nutrients not only gives you a healthy body but also sharpens your mind and fills it with a positive attitude. A positive outlook towards life, in turn, ensures that you do not fall back into the same self-destructive behavior that you are trying to get rid of through your addiction treatment.

Tricks to Develop Good Eating Habits During Addiction Recovery

Unfortunately, most addiction treatment centers stock their cafeterias full of food high in sugar and fat. Underfunded facilities turn to cheap food imports to save money. Tempting as they are, excessive consumption of such food can make you tired and groggy. “Treating yourself,” a reward doesn’t have to mean giving into unhealthy foods. Plenty of dishes have great taste in flavor while also serving to provide you much needed mental support and energy.

You’ll want to develop a diet plan that includes a count of calories and food groups you’ll eat with each meal. If you’re unsure where to begin, seek the counseling of a nutrition expert. Many rehab centers offer nutrition classes at their facilities. Also, you can also explore more luxury styled rehabs that provide more customized meal plans based on your condition.

A well-balanced dietary regimen, alongside with relaxation, physical exercise, and skill training, will provide you your best bet for restoring physical and mental health.

However, things can be slightly more complicated when you are trying to break free of amphetamines addiction. Because amphetamine and other similar stimulants curb appetite to an alarmingly low level, you may lose your appetite altogether. Worse even, there’s also a possibility that you might start misinterpreting hunger as a craving for alcohol or drugs. This is where learning how to eat small but healthy meals throughout the day comes handy. You’ll reduce your chances of relapse by continually filling yourself with a steady supply of nutrients.

10 Quick Healthy Eating Tips

Remember, eating healthy doesn’t mean that you will have to give up all your favorite snacks entirely, neither do you have to change your entire diet overnight. Start by being a little more careful about what you eat and drink. No cheat days! In a typical diet, one day off might not matter in the long-run. However, in substance rehabilitation, your mental state is tied to your health, and thus your survival!

For example, cut the junk food and start filling your plate with more fresh fruits and vegetables. Try experimenting with different recipes to keep your menus diverse and fun.

Here are ten quick eat-healthy tips worth considering if you want to expedite the process of reversing all the damage done by your addiction:

  1. Stay hydrated, drink enough water and juice.
  2. Start your day with a healthy breakfast.
  3. Limit caffeine consumption to the absolute minimum
  4. No fast food, energy drinks, and candy!
  5. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  6. Stop worrying about calories and fat-grams. Instead, focus on the ingredients when you read labels.
  7. Stay away from refined carbohydrates and sugary food.
  8. Eat more protein
  9. Pick healthy fats (e.g., omega-3s or olive oil)
  10. Power your body with a healthy dose of fiber every day

And finally, keep in mind that you should never view nutrition as punitive. You should instead take it for what it is – a crucial component of the recovery process.

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, feel free to reach out to Wherehab’s in-house certified counselors and interventionist for help.

Wherehab is one of the largest third-party rehab listing in the United States that educate people struggling with addiction about quality and affordable treatment choices. We’re changing the face of recovery. Join us to keep rehabs accountable and quality care available on everyone’s path to full recovery.



Join the conversation